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By Cryptic C62 and Sage Ross

Reactions to Google News linking to Wikipedia

As mentioned in a previous issue, Wikipedia articles have begun appearing in Google News results. The Washington Post discussed the various opinions on the issue. Search expert Michael Gray described the idea as "incredibly horrible." Zachary M. Seward of the Nieman Journalism Lab supported the idea as potentially being a major step forward in journalism.

As of 14 June, it appears that Google News has rolled out Wikipedia links for all users. The links were initially only shown to a limited number of Google News users. The World News section has included prominent links to a number of Wikipedia articles.

London Review of Books essay

In "Like Boiling a Frog", David Runciman reviews Andrew Lih's The Wikipedia Revolution for the London Review of Books and takes a broad look at Wikipedia. The title of the essay comes from a line in the collaboratively written final chapter of Lih's book, which deals with Wikipedia's future and the gradual but significant changes that are going on in the project. Runciman first complains of about the cliché, and says about the group-edited style of Wikipedia itself (here he is writing specifically of the set of Objectivism articles):

All of it reads as though it has been worked over far too much, and like any form of writing that is overcooked it alienates the reader by appearing to be closed off in its own private world of obsession and anxiety.

However, Runciman concludes: "There is no other way I could have found out about boiling frogs – truly, for all its flaws, Wikipedia is a wonderful thing."

Holocaust Museum murder suspect made a Wikipedia userpage

In "Traces of Gunman’s Online Life Begin to Vanish" (The New York Times News Blog, June 10, 2009), Noam Cohen reports on the web presence of James von Brunn, the suspect in the June 10 United States Holocaust Memorial Museum shooting.

Brunn appears to have a Wikipedia account, although one with very few edits. After creating the account in December 2007, User:James von Brunn edited the article about Cordell Hull (US secretary of state during the Roosevelt administration) to add the claim that his wife was an "Orthodox Jew" (which, as Cohen notes, was removed by another user). In May 2009 he published a short biography of himself on his user page, mentioning his anti-semitic views and his previous imprisonment for his 1981 attempt "to place the Federal Resrve Board of Governors [sic] under legal, non-violent citizens arrest". His request for advice on how to convert this text into a Wikipedia article was answered by a suggestion to read Wikipedia:Your first article, Wikipedia:Conflict of interest and Wikipedia:Notability. He also seemed to ask about how to add a letter from the late White Nationalist Revilo P. Oliver to the article about US holocaust denier Willis Carto. The account was blocked indefinitely on June 10, and the userpage was deleted for a short time. Wikimedia Foundation spokesman Jay Walsh stated: "The editors have identified that the statements on his user page constituted a violation of policy of hate speech and moved quickly to protect and remove the information". Walsh also noted that the same biographical information had appeared on other websites, too. The complete deletion of the user page has since been reversed; as of now the only deleted revisions are vandalism and commentary added after von Brunn was linked to the shooting. A notice was placed on the page explaining that "The text on this page violated Wikipedia's policies on user pages and it has been blanked".


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